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August 24, 2006

Stop Bush/Blair/Ashcroft's Extradition Treaty

ACTION ALERT--Stop Bush/Blair and John Ashcroft's Extradition Treaty
by CoolOnion

Thu Aug 24, 2006 at 05:02:30 AM PDT

In March 2003, John Ashcroft and U.K. Home Secretary David Blunkett co-signed a "fast track" extradition treaty between our two countries. The US UK Extradition Treaty applies retroactively, has a loose interpretation of "probable cause," has no statute of limitations, and leaves the definition of "political exception" up to the prosecutor.

The U.K. has already signed on to their half of the treaty, and Tony Blair's constituents aren't too happy about it. On September 7--the same day as the highly controversial John Bolton nomination--the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will vote on whether or not to send this Treaty to the full Senate for ratification. Please contact members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today, urging them to vote "no" on the US UK Extradition Treaty (Treaty 108-23). Talking points, links and further information below the fold...

CoolOnion's diary :: ::

Usually, treaties between the United States and the United Kingdom are negotiated between the U.S. State Department (not the Justice Department) and the U.K.'s Foreign And Commonwealth Office (not the British Home Secretary). But, hey, that sort of thinking is so "reality based," isn't it? In BushBlair Land, treaties are different. The story so far: the U.K. has signed on to their half of the treaty, and we have not, so right now, we have a "lopsided" extradition treaty with the U.K. The Bush Administration has wasted no time submitting extradition requests for British citizens in connection with white collar crime:

To hear U.S. prosecutors talk, you'd think Ian Norris was a terrorist. But the 62-year-old Norris, a U.K. citizen and resident, is anything but. Norris is the retired CEO of The Morgan Crucible Co., a British manufacturer of carbon products.

The U.S. is seeking to extradite Norris for allegedly conspiring to fix the price of carbon products in the U.S. between 1989 and 2000. The alleged crime wasn't even a criminal offense in Britain until June 2003. In addition, it was committed primarily in the U.K. This has many lawyers both in the U.S. and Britain concerned...

What makes Norris' extradition possible is the U.K.'s 2003 Extradition Act, which came into force January 2004. The legislation ratified a treaty between the U.S. and the U.K. to fast track the extradition of suspected terrorists.

The U.S. has yet to ratify the treaty, but that hasn't stopped American authorities from trying to use it. So far the U.S. government has submitted 45 extradition applications, half of which relate to white-collar crime. And of the nine applications granted, not one has involved an alleged terrorist...Did you catch this sentence? "The alleged crime wasn't even a criminal offense in Britain until June 2003..." This is one problem with the proposed Treaty, it applies retroactively. Also, Mr. Norris was also never charged for a crime in Britain, which is also true of the "NatWest Three," currently in the U.S. awaiting trial. Blogger Brian Barder sums up the case of the NatWest 3 like this:

So we have here three UK citizens, charged with offences committed in Britain against a British company, for which they have never been charged in Britain: the Americans claiming extra-territorial jurisdiction as if Washington were the seat of a world government and a world court; an Act of Parliament under which all this is allowed to happen (thus effectively preventing the UK courts from offering protection to the victims); the cowardly refusal of the British law officers or the home secretary to exercise their discretion to prevent extradition from going ahead; a deeply flawed and one-sided agreement with the US, for which David Blunkett is unsurprisingly responsible from his days as home secretary; and three Britons about to be the victims of the deeply unjust American systems of plea bargaining, over-charging (remember Louise Woodward?), and grossly over-long prison sentences.U.S. patriots are concerned that the proposed Treaty pays mere lip service to the political exception clause, and has no statute of limitations, which inspired the right-wing publication World Net Daily to ask

Could treaty with UK target U.S. founders?

Critics say a new anti-terrorism treaty between the U.S. and the United Kingdom could conceivably result in Great Britain seizing the assets of dead enemies - like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.

The treaty, forwarded April 19, 2004, by President Bush to the U.S. Senate for ratification, has generated little media attention and little controversy - probably due to the fact that it is anagreement between coalition partners in the war on terrorism.
But some who have examined the small print see big problems with the new extradition treaty - saying it abrogates the constitutional rights of Americans accused of wrongdoing byGreat Britain and threatens the estates of long-dead antagonists of the crown...under the treaty as written, the British could demand recompense from anyone in the U.S. who stood up to British law - living or dead....

In the U.S., the fight against this proposed treaty has been waged primarily by Irish-Americans, who fear the lack of a political exception clause and statute of limitations would put their friends and relatives in jeopardy, particularly those from Northern Ireland who were rounded up in "sweeps" for alleged IRA activity. Many were interned without charge, released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, and have come to the U.S. to make a new life for themselves. Under the proposed Treaty, the British could request these people again, to face the same unfounded allegations as before.

Irish-Americans have enlisted the help of Francis Boyle, Professor of International Law at the University of Illinois, who drafted a statement against the US UK Extradition Treaty in advance of a hearing, which was held by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on on July 21.

...Because of this American legacy of revolution against British Tyranny, we, Americans, have always been wary of efforts by foreign powers to transport Americans and foreigners for prosecution abroad. In the Declaration of Independence, one of the specific complaints against British Tyranny made by Thomas Jefferson was directed at the British outrage of "transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offences." Such is the case for this Treaty!

For that reason, several episodes in the early history of our Republic, such as that of Citizen Genet under Thomas Jefferson, laid the foundation for the uniquely American notion of the "political offense exception" to extradition. Today, this bedrock principle of American Justice is now under assault by means of this Treaty. Although it pays lip-service to the political offense exception, the Treaty effectively eliminates it for all practical purposes...

... Most outrageously, under this Treaty, responsibility for determining whether a prosecution is politically motivated is transferred from the U.S. Federal Courts to the executive branch of government...

The U.K. is putting tremendous pressure on the United States to ratify this treaty,
because it's been such an embarrassment to Tony Blair that he signed up for this thing and we didn't. Well, hey, Tony Blair's embarrassment is not our problem! Peter Hain also weighed in, assuring Irish-Americans that the U.K. is not out to get them. Since when is "just trust us" a foreign policy?

Action item #1: Please send an email to the members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today, urging them to vote "no" to the US UK Extradition Treaty (Treaty 108-23) when the treaty comes up for a vote on September 7. For more information, see the ACLU press release Oppose British-American Extradition Treaty and their list of talking points Support Proper Judicial Review for Extradition Requests.

A group of lawyers from my own circle of internet activists also came up with this joint statement:

The U.S. Senate Should Not Eliminate Our Right To A Fair trial
The right to a fair trial is one of our most precious freedoms as American citizens. A treaty currently under consideration by the U.S. Senate would eliminate that precious right.

The proposed Extradition Treaty between the United States and the United Kingdom (Treaty Document 108-23) should not be ratified by the U.S. Senate. Under this treaty, any American citizen could be shipped overseas without a fair trial in a U.S. court, to face punishment in circumstances where a fair trial might be difficult or impossible.
Under the terms of this extradition treaty:

-- Americans are stripped of their right to have a U.S. court decide whether a foreign country's prosecution of a U.S. citizen is politically motivated.

-- Americans are stripped of their right to have a U.S. court decide whether a foreign country's prosecution of a U.S. citizen is a pretext for punishment on account of his or her race, religion, nationality or politicalopinion.

-- Americans are stripped of their right to have a U.S. court decide whether a foreign country's prosecution of a U.S. citizen is based on legitimate political activities.

-- Americans can be prosecuted for activities they engaged in even before the treaty's ratification.

-- Americans can be held without trial for up to 60 days at the request of a foreign government.

This extradition treaty outsources the protection of American citizens' right to a fair trial to foreign courts, including the infamous "Diplock Courts" of Northern Ireland, where the accused has no right to silence, no right to a presumption of innocence, no right to a jury, and none of the other basic rights guaranteed by our American constitution. Our right to a fair trial should not be signed away by the U.S. Senate.
Below is a list of Committee members. I've put an asterisk beside the names of those who voted for the flag burning amendment, because I thought Kos readers would like to challenge these Senators to show how truly patriotic they are. Since they voted to protect the symbol of Democracy, tell them to cast a vote to protect Democracy itself, by voting no to the US/UK Extradition Treaty on September 7.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee (* = voted for flag burning amendment)
Richard Lugar Chuck HagelLincoln ChafeeGeorge Allen *Norm Coleman *George Voinovich *Lamar Alexander * John Sununu *Lisa Murkowski *Mel Martinez *

DemocratsJoseph R. BidenPaul S. SarbanesChristopher J. DoddJohn F. KerryRussell D. FeingoldBarbara BoxerBill Nelson *Barack Obama

*Action item #2: Your Senators need to know this is on the horizon, just in case the Senate Foreign Relations Committee votes to send it to the full Senate on September 7. Write your two Senators today, asking for a "no" vote, should the Treaty come before the full Senate for ratification. And, again, we especially want to target those Senators who voted to protect the symbol of Democracy--our flag--and ask them to stand up for Democracy itself by opposing this anti-American "fast track" treaty:
Senators who voted for flag burning amendment:

Republicans * = member, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Lamar Alexander *, Wayne Allard, George Allen *, Kit Bond, Sam Brownback, Jim Bunning, Conrad Burns, Richard Burr, Saxby Chambliss, Tom Coburn, Thad Cochran, Norm Coleman *, Susan Collins, John Cornyn, Larry Craig, Michael Crapo, Jim DeMint, Mike DeWine, Elizabeth Dole, Pete Domenici, John Ensign, Michael Enzi, Bill Frist, Lindsey Graham, Charles Grassley, Judd Gregg, Chuck Hagel, Orrin Hatch, Kay Bailey Hutchison, James Inhofe, Johnny Isakson, Jon Kyl, Trent Lott, Richard Lugar *, Mel Martinez *, John McCain, Lisa Murkowski *, Pat Roberts, Rick Santorum, Jeff Sessions, Richard Shelby, Gordon Smith, Olympia Snowe, Arlen Specter, Ted Stevens, John Sununu *, Jim Talent, Craig Thomas,John Thune, David Vitter, George Voinovich *, John Warner

Max Baucus, Evan Bayh, Mark Dayton, Dianne Feinstein, Tim Johnson, Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln, Robert Menéndez, Bill Nelson *, Ben Nelson, Harry Reid, Jay Rockefeller, Kenneth Salazar, Debbie Stabenow

One more obvious point--we actually do have an extradition treaty with the U.K. already, which is good enough to bring any criminals to the U.S. for trial, assuming we have just cause. We don't need another treaty, especially not one endorsed by John Ashcroft.

Tags: US UK Extradition Treaty, John Ashcroft, President Bush, Tony Blair, Treaties, Treaty, NatWest Three (all tags)
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